Talking to young people about drugs and alcohol

Support for parents, teachers and everyone looking out for a child or young person.

Why might a young people try drugs or alcohol?

To be very clear, not every young person will choose to try drugs or drink alcohol. And if they do, they won’t necessarily come to direct harm as a result. But if they do try, it could be for a variety of reasons. It might be down to simple curiosity as these substances can appear to be cool or fun. Or it could be a way to fit in with new friends or a particular peer group.

Or maybe it’s because they have some personal issues that they’re struggling with. Every year we speak to thousands of young people who tell us they feel under pressure to succeed in exams, maintain relationships or to look or act in certain ways. It’s clear that each of these stresses can have a significant impact on their physical and emotional health.

For some young people, the effects of drugs and alcohol may appear to offer an escape from their troubles and a way to stop worrying about things, if only for a short time. If we understand these reasons, we can talk with them about more positive ways to cope with life’s challenges.

The help you can offer

We can all play a role in supporting young people to have stronger emotional wellbeing and to be better informed around the issues of drugs and alcohol. By building their resilience, they can become emotionally stronger and better able to deal with the challenges that can come with life.

Some protective examples are

  • Being made to feel that they belong somewhere
  • Having positive relationships and open. communication with parents/carers and teachers.
  • Having positive experiences and achievements.
  • Maintaining positive relationships with friends/peers.
  • Feeling respected and cared for.

How to start a conversation

It may feel as if you’re the last person a young person would want to speak to about drugs and alcohol – especially if you’re worried about giving the wrong information or saying the wrong thing.  Yet we know that many young people want to talk to a trusted adult about this subject.

Our free guide can help you to hold useful and worthwhile conversations. It will also help you to become someone a young person can talk to about drugs, alcohol and any other concerns they may have.

Information and advice

Our Resilience Programme supports thousands of young people each year. To discuss how it could benefit your child’s school or college, then we’d love to hear from you.

If you’d like to learn more about drugs, alcohol and young people, we’ve compiled a list of trusted organisations and websites that can help.

Engaging with parents

Parents are often very busy people but it is crucial to find the time and opportunity to engage with them on issues around drugs and alcohol. In some schools we ‘piggyback’ on to parents’ evenings to share information and deliver sessions about our drug and alcohol education work.